Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lakers vs Heat

The Lakers were blown out at home by the Milwaukee Bucks for the game preceding today's game between the Lakers and Heat.  That should definitely help their performance against Miami, as it will refocus them.  I'll watch the game today but it should definitely have had a positive effect overall.

We'll see the results shortly.

The other side of the coin is that today the Lakers will give their best effort, and I'm sure the Heat will too.  So taking into account home court advantage, it should be a good indicator of where each team is relative to each other.

If the Lakers lose today, thats a bad sign.

The match-ups will be interesting

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Different types of humor

I was thinking about the different types of humor and the ways they are expressed in movies and books and tv shows.

The most common way is the clueless person who is expected to be smart.  For example, a person in a position of authority who is actually a doofus, but must be taken seriously by everyone.  Kind of like Michael Scott.

Another is when two people are talking about different things, but are assuming they are both talking about the same thing.  I remember watching The Ladies Man and a Catholic Nun was talking about the Yalu River in China and he was talking about the Yellow River.

People taking trivial things seriously.  This happens a lot, basically actors being too serious for a given situation.

Often times it is a merging of the person watching the joke and his/her expectations with the expectations of the actors or characters in the show.  That mismatch can create humor.

Also, in LOTR a big theme is people making a decision about an issue or idea, and trying to act on it, only to find it is a moot point.  There are many examples of this.  Gandalf dies fighting the balrog, giving up his life to protect it, only to be granted another life by the Gods.  Aragorn, after taking Gondor, takes his army on a suicide mission to attack Mordor and draw out their forces, only to have Frodo destroy the ring at the last possible second, saving his life.  In Tolkien's book, it is often more important what people decided to do rather than what was actually done, as external forces conspire to change the reality of the situation after characters decide to act, but before they can actually do so.

Monday, December 20, 2010

NBA topics

What causes a team to quit?  When has a team quit?  How can one tell when a team has quit?  When a professional or college team fails to meet expectations, do they quit?  Are our perceptions of the team drawn up afterwards?

Blah blah blah.

This blog is nearly dead.  I simply don't have the motivation to write any more.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lakers vs Kings

The Lakers won by 30 at home in a laugher to stop their four game losing streak.  Rah.

I'll try to continue keeping track of losing streaks during the NBA season.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

NBA Martingale Part II

I was thinking more about the NBA martingale system.  Really every team in the NBA will eventually win games.  The important part is getting a large enough sample size and controlling the size of the bet made.

What about looking at road trips, say 5 games in length or more.  What are the odds of a team winning all five in a row?  Could a reverse martingale system be done to bet on a team to lose, i.e. picking the whichever team the subject is playing against?  There is probably huge levels of attrition on road trips, in the sense that teams get more and more fatigued with each effort required to win games on the road.  What about a bad team on the road?  The worst teams in the league have long road trips too.  The odds of them sweeping a road trip must be unfathomable.    

Now that is a research subject.

I think the main reason I haven't tried to research it more is not a lack of time but a lack of opportunity to bet the games and a small amount of disinterest.

Lakes versus Kings Dec 3rd

The Lakers have lost four in a row despite being the defending champions.  On Friday they play the Kings, at home no less.  I'm sure Kobe Bryant is furious about their longest losing streak in years, and they have the same team (minus Bynum) that won the championship last year.  Although I'm sure they are tired from busy summers, they are still a good team.

What are the odds the Lakers will win on Friday?  I don't know, but I would feel comfortable betting a lot of money on the Lakers to win, at home, against a 4-15 team, to snap a four game losing streak for them.

Situations like this remind me of why an NBA Martingale system based on the one or two best teams in the league could be very profitable.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Heat vs Lakers

In analyzing which team would win a seven game match up (NBA Finals) I have to consider the three out of five method.  Essentially, which team has better players at more positions?

Center:  Bynum/Odom vs Joel Anthony
Advantage Lakers

Power Forward:  Gasol vs. Bosh
Advantage Lakers

Shooting Forward:  James vs Artest
Advantage Heat

Shooting Guard:  Bryant vs. Wade

Point Guard:  Fisher vs Arroyo

So the issue is who is better, Wade or Bryant?  If it is Wade (and I'm inclined to believe it is) then the match is a push, with possibly the Lakers winning because size beats perimeter players.  If Bryant can match Wade for a series, great, but I have serious doubts he could guard Dwayne Wade for a seven game series.  Dwayne is really fast and really strong, and Kobe Bryant is coming off a knee surgery and is now in his early thirties.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Brett Favre and the Vikings

The Vikings are currently 2-4 and barring a major turnaround, will miss the playoffs and finish the season with a wimper.

Brett Favre was brought in for $10,000,000 to play this year and has mired himself into a sex scandal with a NY Reporter and is also playing quite poorly.  He has tendinitis in his elbow and appears to be missing throws, probably due to the fact that he missed all of training camp and obviously did not stick to his off-season conditioning program, if he even had one.

Its too bad to see, but the guy obviously didn't prepare as much for this season and is also not as focused due to the NFL investigation plus the obvious problems his wife will have with his behavior.

It just seems like there is a lack of focus on behalf of the Favre and a lack of dedication, which is affecting the entire team.  Also, based on some of Brad Childress's comments, it appears that there are lots of disagreements between Favre and Childress, with Favre thinking he knows more than Childress and wanting to make the decisions.  Overall its not a recipe for success.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

TV Timeouts during NFL Games

The NFL showed why it is the premiere sports league in America with the highest value of its franchises: blatantly injecting as much commercialism as the American viewers can handle.  With two minutes to go in a blowout game between the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars, the referees asked the Coach of the Titans to call timeouts simply to show ads to the viewers.

Its depressing.  And lame.  And shows why NFL teams make so much money.

Now the NFL is addressing concussion concerns and is threatening to suspend players who make violent helmet-to-helmet concerns and is attempting to address the culture of carelessness to physical violence in the NFL.   This is all a result of external pressures and none of it comes from any desire to decrease the occurrence of injuries in the most violent sport around by the NFL.

What lessons are to be learned from this ? Perhaps it is best to come up with something intriguing so people want to watch, them sell lots of advertisements to generate revenue.

The other thought I've had is how difficult it is to break into the NFL's monopoly on football.  Simply put, no one else could make a league that can really compete with them for violent outdoor sports.  The only other option to really consider is soccer, which is also an outdoor sport and caters to the same type of fans.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The T.Ocho Show

I just saw an ad for the T.Ocho show, a sports radio talk show featuring Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco (formerly Chad Johnson).  I also noticed that the Cincinnati Bengals have a record of 2-3.  Stuff like this never seems to help the team win games.

I also have been thinking about Shaq's attempts at media relevancy like his show "Shaq versus" and his blatant attempts the past few years to hop onto a good team in the hopes of winning an easy championship.  Then I read a comment from Doc Rivers about Shaq's terrible freethrow shooting form doesn't bother Doc Rivers and immediately decided the Celtics won't win another championship.

Doc Rivers' coaching style is not one to push and prod youngsters but instead to get maximum effort and concentration out of veterans.  Doc is just not going to get any production out of Shaq and Shaq will instead sap the teams concentration and effort throughout the season.

Celtics = done.

Destroyed by Shaq.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bleacher Report Articles

I'm trying to think up a couple of topical articles for BR about college football and the disparity between perception and reality.  One is the concept of preseason rankings and what contributes to a team being over-rated to start the pre-season.  Another is what causes good teams to lose (like Alabama did recently).  Another good topic is the concept of drive.

I want to do some serious college football writing and get the feedback from the community to sharpen my knowledge and give me more evidence.  Rely upon the memory and passion of the whole community to broaden my knowledge.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Face reading

Just had another flash of inspiration.

Perhaps data analysis and whatnot is too crowded of a scene.  Perhaps a better tack is the path less taken, the concept of focusing solely on emotional aspects of a team.  Trying to find a few people who are good at reading facial expressions and unleashing them on college football.

I don't know.

Too big of a problem to wrap my head around.

College Football

I had a wide ranging discussion last night with one of the foremost authorities on college football, and we discussed misconceptions in college football and the absurd amount of data and time required to do a proper job of understanding college football and why stuff happens the way it does.

The biggest issues currently are:
1) Data collection
2) Time to make analysis decisions

These are both time consuming, especially data collection.  There is just so much information out there.

Monday, September 27, 2010

College Football Season gets Underway...

Another season of College Football is underway.  Another season where I think of the possibilities out there but am just unable to pursue any of my own research, which is too bad.  The biggest problem is data research and accumulation.  I.e. data mining.

Just as generals of old won battles not through tactics but through logistics, so does a modern analyst get information and power through the proper collection of data instead of just "sensing" or "predicting".  Unfortunately, both logistics and data mining are tedious, boring, and time-intensive.  A real triple threat that I am powerless against.

More importantly, I would want to study what drives perceptions and assumptions and look for recurring weaknesses.  Once I start working full time I should set aside a small portion of my budget for this new project.  Perhaps a few hundred dollars to pay some college kid or high-school fan to find all this data for me and sort it out on excel sheets.

Hope springs eternal!

New Posts will be forthcoming!

I've switched my blogger account to my current email address, so I'll be posting on here more often.  Previously, I had to switch google accounts to even see my blog so I've done away with that.

Also, on BR I'm up to 11,500 reads and 20 articles written.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals recently signed a player to a four year deal with 8 million dollars guaranteed, and then cut him four weeks later.


You wonder why a franchise like the Bengals has had such limited success in the NFL over the years, its plays like that which are a symptom of the underlying problems they face.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Is Isiah Thomas being paid by James Dolan to keep a secret?

After hearing that James Dolan was determined to keep giving Isiah Thomas free money, this time as a "consultant" to the Knicks with an unverified list of responsibilities while still being a college coach, a position which is most certainly illegal with respect to the NBA, I concluded he must, absolutely must, be paying him "hush money".

There is no other rational explanation.

Their relationship will assuredly be struck down by the NBA's team of legal experts and lawyers. I can't imagine such an incestuous relationship between an NCAA Coach and an NBA team to be allowed.

But what motivates James Dolan, billionaire and cable TV mogul, to keep giving and giving to a man so vilified by media and basketball experts? There has to be something behind the scenes.

Consider the list of people who have had illicit affairs in recent memory: Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, Jesse Jackson, Larry Craig, Elliot Spitzer, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, etc., etc. These men all had impeccable public records prior to their respective scandals.

It is no stretch to imagine another person has succumbed under the bright lights of fame and celebrity. I think its possible that a behind the scenes agreement between James Dolan and Isiah Thomas requires Mr. Dolan to keep giving Isiah Thomas money in perpetuity as a requirement of remaining quiet.

Isiah Thomas joined the Knicks in 2002 as President of Basketball operations. By 2006 the team had the highest payroll and the second worst record in the league. He has been implicated in the $11.6 million sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the Knicks, rumored to have instigated the brawl between the Nuggets and Knicks on December 16th, 2006, and many other actions that lead to a very poor resume.

Yet still he is being brought back in an unspecified role that looks like it is just a way for James Dolan to give Isiah Thomas more money.

I say this because there is no way Isiah Thomas is being recruited for his acumen as a general manager. As a player he was superb; as a front office worker, he has been terrible.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Leadership Series

I've now profiled Shaq and Kevin Durant. Who next? Among the people I can think of are Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, etc., etc. There are many player choices. What about coaches? Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, Greg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy. Front office: Pat Riley is the first that comes to mind.

Owners: Mark Cuban

NBA Leadership: David Stern

Leadership 101: Shaq

Shaquille O'Neal has been one of the great players in NBA history but his remarkable run of championships (4), All-Star appearances (15), and relevancy (drafted 1992) has come to a startling and regrettable conclusion.

And it's his fault.

The sad part is that despite his greatness on the court and incredible personality off the court, his wounds are self-inflicted and he should be considered a model for hownot to lead a team or organization.

His current basketball status is that of elder statesman. He is the longest-tenured player in the NBA and like all aging players, his abilities have declined.

In his favor, he was the starting center on a team with the NBA's best record last year and still averaged 12 points and 6.7 rebounds Those are good numbers for the oldest man in the league!

As far as aging veterans go who are trying to get one more shot at a championship, they typically have a label applied to them. A label that is intended as a compliment but often has the undertone of a role player who won't be playing many crunch time minutes.

What is that label?

Character guy.

Throughout his career, Shaq has openly mocked character players and veterans who subjugate their egos to win.

Shaq practiced "leadership by performance," which means it doesn't matter what one does off the court as long as one steps up during the game, which is not surprising for a player who relied almost entirely on physical dominance and skills.

He never developed the work ethic or appreciation for teamwork that a less physically gifted but supremely motivated player would have. Consider his early rival David Robinson.

Mr. Robinson, whose amazing skills came with discipline and leadership he undoubtedly learned during his rigorous training at the U.S. Naval Academy, was a character guy. Because of that, later in his career, the Spurs kept him and his eroding skills, and he was able to help them win another championship.

Mr. O'Neal has used "leadership by performance" his entire career, belittling the franchises he left (Orlando, Los Angeles, Miami, and Phoenix) in favor of the new one. He always stated he "makes free throws when it counts" despite missing almost half of them.

And that attitude and method of leadership is not consistent with being a character guy, which will prevent him from winning another title. Ever.

Shaq is done at four, forever behind Kobe.

If you don't believe me, consider the short list of contenders in the NBA: the L.A. Lakers ('09 and '10 champs), the Boston Celtics ('08 champs), Orlando ('09 Eastern champs), Miami Heat (free agent signings put them on the rise), and possibly the Chicago Bulls (same as Miami).

Shaq burned the Lakers, Magic, and Heat.

He mocked Kendrick Perkins, Boston's starting center. He has, in fact, mocked nearly everyone in the league, from Kobe to Dwight to Pat Riley to Stan Van Gundy.

When he was on top of the league and could beat double teams, "leadership by performance" was acceptable. He called players to step up and perform with him and match his level of excellence.

When they failed, he belittled them.

Now that he has failed to match his own standards, no team will give him the time of day.

The most damning evidence: LeBron James, who played with Shaq last year, won't recommend him to Miami. LeBron knows his skill level, accomplishments, and character, but won't play with him anymore.

Shaq has had a great career, but he'll never win another championship and be relevant again. His career is unfortunately over, and sadly, it's his own fault.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Leadership Series

I just published my second "Leadership 101" series article about Shaq. I think that articles about the players could be 101 series, articles about coaches could be 201, articles about franchises could be 301, and articles about the NBA overall could be 401. That would be a cute little signature method to tie all the articles together and analyze the different methods/types.


Next leadership article and another idea

I want to write another leadership article first on BR, in order to build some momentum for the leadership evaluation series I'm writing. Shaq? AI? Kobe I will save for last. Should I switch sports an analyze football or baseball? But my heart and passion is with the NBA, so I think I should write about how Shaq's poor leadership is finally catching up with him. Also, I think the best NBA leaders will always be the short guys, as they had to fight hardest to make it in the league.

Also, a great topic would be about determining if the Heat are setting themselves up to be the laziest team in the NBA? LeBron has the personal mentality of "if I want it I can get it" so they may start to coast through the regular season, letting other teams outpace them if they win a championship or two and the everything becomes boring, then try to turn it on after the fact.

How a Conversation Starts....

I have heard many stories about pro athletes who were spurned on Draft Day, or cut, or were simply drafted lower than projected. They felt insulted, let down, deceived, and mostly just hurt.

Then they put their heads down and that feeling stays with them, through the bus trips, the work outs, the failures, the let downs, and eventually they stop sliding down the hill and start climbing up.

And when they get going, boy do they really get going! Years pass and I've forgotten all about them; but one day I'm watching a highlight on ESPN or YouTube and there he is again, sprinting towards the goal, leading a pack and I just know they won't catch him. Could be a fast break, a fumble return, or simply a player stretching a single into a double and arriving just as the ball arrives. Tie goes to the runner.

He's not the top player or the face of the franchise, but he is the player who makes every hustle play and comes up with something when everyone else thought there was nothing there. In fact, he came up with something for his life, his definition of self, when the 'experts' evaluated him and found nothing there.

Too bad we don't have a word for that. There has to be a word in Spanish, Italian, French, or Swahili (spelling?), that sums up that feeling of determination brought on by how the conversation starts, by that initial rejection in the face of hope and perhaps a touch of expectation.

That is the mentality that is required to achieve one's potential.

When I think of LeBron, I think of the worlds best basketball player. But I also think of a person who has always, and I mean always, had success. With everything he does. He won three state championships in high school, was so far ahead of the pack in the draft that it wasn't even exciting watching the draft but more exciting watching the lottery to see which team won the draft and would draft him. The draft is supposed to be a day where the players see who picks them. LeBron watched a lottery between multi-millionaires to see would get him. He flipped it on his head.

In the NBA he has already won back-to-back MVP awards, been to the NBA finals, all-star game MVP, etc., etc., etc. Everything he has turned his mind to he has done simply by willing it to happen.

Except one thing.

You know what it is. I know what it is. And that thing, which I won't name, has not occurred despite having the best record in the entire league two seasons in a row. And LeBron has definitely willed himself to win it. He has tried and for the first time in his life had failure.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that he turns his attention to another team, with a proven leader that he can team with, to a team completely stacked so they can win the title by simply willing themselves to win, just like LeBron has done with everything else in his life.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Leadership 101 Series

I want to write a series of articles on Bleacher Report detailing the leadership traits and personalities of various athletes. This will be a great way for me to write about something unique while covering athletes in different areas, and refine my own study of leadership.

Leadership is such a challenging subject and writing about it, analyzing it, and hopefully getting in some good discussion with people about it will expand my knowledge and expand the knowledge of the readers as well.

Future topics to cover include Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Doc Rivers, Stan Van Gundy, Phil Jackson, Tom Brady, and many, many more. Leadership and human action is an endlessly challenging field which is open ended and not goal oriented, making it a perfect field of study for my needs.

Full Text of KD Article

Kevin Durant's leadership style is an important aspect of the Oklahoma City Thunder's development and is the No. 1 reason they improved by a staggering 27 wins over their 2008-2009 season.

To start this article, I want to separate his basketball talents and physical skills from his leadership style. His talents include leading the league in free throw attempts per game and being a prolific scorer; his leadership skills allow him to translate that hard work into motivation for his teammates to accept and improve their own roles for the team.

His leadership primarily affects his teammates and what they do, while his talents affect his impressive nightly stat line and nothing else.

Oklahoma City fans already know what the rest of the world is learning: Kevin Durant is a firm believer in “Leadership by Personal Example.” What is so natural for small families and military units becomes a rare trait in the world of multi-million dollar athletes.

Has anyone seen this hilarious Allen Iverson video? Statistically, they both have regular season scoring titles; for philosophy, they couldn't be farther apart.

Leadership by example is the strongest type of leadership and is actually fairly rare in sports. It is legitimately difficult to demand someone making $15 million dollars a year, worshipped by hundreds of thousands of fans and his own national brand, to accept the same standards as a bench warmer.

LeBron James had his entourage fly with him on the team plane; Barry Bonds had a designated leather seat in the dugout, and we all know many other stories of over-pampered adult men. I know of no such Kevin Durant story and while one may emerge, his example right now is one of hard work, effort, and discipline.

The best example is how many times Kevin gets to the free throw line per game: 10.24, with a 90% success rate.

Besides Dirk Nowitzki, I can't think of a player that tall who makes so many free throws.

More importantly, it takes a strong commitment to aggression and absorbing a relentless physical beating to earn that many free throws in the NBA. He took 840 free throws this past year: that is a lot of NBA-level fouls, fouls from centers and power forwards who weigh in excess of 240 pounds per person.

His personal example is what sets up Thabo Sefolosha to selflessly play defense (and not much else) for every game of the year, similar to Tim Duncan's leadership encouraging Bruce Bowen to work hard for little personal reward and recognition.

It is important to remember that while NBA teams win and lose as a team, they get paid individually, often based on scoring and perception with less emphasis on defense and rebounding.

Many collections of "talented" players under achieve and fail to make waves in the playoffs (think Golden Sate Warriors 2007-2008 or Atlanta Hawks 2009-2010). Neither team had a leader able to inspire selfless acts, merely a collection of scorers focusing on their stat lines.

His personal belief in work hard combined with his physical tools have made him one of the best players in the NBA. A man who will inspire peak performances from his teammates not just on game day, but during off season workouts, off days during the season, and in the film room.

That is why they improved 27 games over the previous season, and while they won't improve by 27 wins again (that would mean 77 wins next season!), they can easily set their sights on earning home court advantage for at least one round of the playoffs, perhaps more.

The best thing to occur during the "Summer of LeBron" for the Thunder was Kevin Durant signing a five-year contract extension worth about $86 million. That will take him to age 26, the age where most players focus on simply maintaining their abilities rather than improving.

Oklahoma City gets to watch one of the preeminent leaders and players of this generation mature, grow, and ultimately create a legacy that will be remembered.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Leadership of Kevin Durant facts and tidbits

Kevin just signed a On July 7, 2010, Durant announced on his Twitter page that he signed a 5 year contract extension with the Thunder.[42] The extension is worth about $86 million.[43]


blah blah blah

That was a cut and paste job.

This post is really just a way for me to assemble to some facts about KD. The full article will come later.

He is also on Team USA and the likely leader (in terms of star power) for the team (also in terms of desire and work ethic). A quick look at the potential roster shows he was the regular season scoring leader, but Chauncey Billups (NBA champ '04, Finals MVP '04) and Lamar Odom (NBA Champ '09, '10) are on the team with a lot of credentials. It will be interesting to see if they defer to him, or resent his alleged "arrival".

Chauncey and Lamar have a history of deferring to others, so its possible.

2010 All-NBA 1st team.

I shall talk briefly about the psychology of being skinny, but should keep it brief.

Mention work ethic; find some quotes about KD to use. "quiet leadership".

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Leadership Style of Kevin Durant

I want to publish a BR article about the leadership style of Kevin Durant and I will start my leadership inquiry here.

First off I think he believes in leadership by example. He is motivated to be the hardest worker on the team, and goes about his training in a logical and forthright manner.

He is skinny, and as a former "skinny kid" myself, I know that it only makes his mental toughness go up to make up for his perceived lack of physical toughness. Contrast with Shaq, who is physically very tough but has been very sensitive to criticism his entire career. So KD followers won't have to worry about his ego getting in the way.

Leadership by example is similar to that of Kevin Garnett, who frequently spoke of his desire to be the first one in the gym and the last to leave.

Contrast with the leadership style of Allen Iverson, which is about on-court performance and nothing else. This is less effective because although it worked for A.I. personally, it never pulls teammates up and indeed, allows him to measure his performance separately from that of others.

KD and Kevin Garnett were more about team results and feel that they can singlehandedly win games by outpracticing and outworking everyone before the game even starts. This is the most effective team-leadership style for the NBA.

While personal performance merits all-star appearances, the last shot as the game expires, and many other accolades, many people are interested in team performance (i.e. making the playoffs, securing home court advantage,

Back to KD. KD has taken some criticism personally, such as when he was attacked on Truehoop and by several statisticians about his poor pick and roll defense. He responded by focusing on that area and showing much improvement this year.

The important thing to note is that by focusing on a weakness, he improved it. That search-and-destroy mentality to weaknesses is reminiscent of an MJ saying "I will take a weakness and make it a strength".

Contrast this with LeBron James, who's back to the basket and post-up game are way below where they should be for someone of his amazing ability and potential. Two straight post-season flame-outs have not convinced him to work on his shortcomings but have instead made him sign with Miami, hoping that better teammates will bring him the championships he desires.

It seems likely that KD will methodically work to improve all areas of his game until injury and age make it more important to maintain his current levels rather than aspire for higher ones.

He is currently twenty one and NBA players max out physically around 26. While the mental game and experience continue to grow day to day, Kevin has about five seasons of the methodical improvement which is so fun to watch as a fan of Oklahoma.

**mention contract length here**

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dwayne Wade Wins the Regular Season MVP Award!

Dwayne Wade is setting the stage for himself to win the 2010-2011 regular season MVP award with his vocal defense of new teammate LeBron James from accusations that he "quit" during the playoffs the last two years.

The psychology of the team is already set and he is their Leader; the problem is until now the outward signs have been hidden from view. While we pundits wonder who will emerge as the leader, who will have the most points, and who will get the ball in crunch time, the "3Heat" already know the answer: Dwayne Wade.

As an NBA fan, I readily admit LeBron is the best player in the NBA despite living in California and rooting for the Lakers. However, LeBron has admitted in interviews that he doesn't have the "killer mentality" of a Kobe or more importantly, a Michael Jordan.

Problem is, I and everyone else who loves the NBA wouldn't admit it to ourselves. Even with LeBron telling us point blank that he's not like that, we couldn't admit it. How could someone THAT good not be so driven as to isolate himself from everyone, belittle his own teammates, fight with everyone, and eventually win championships?

Although many NBA fans will still debate who the best player is, it is clear that LeBron would be the most fun to have as a teammate. Heck, if I had played for the Cavs he'd still pass me the ball even though I can barely shoot! He did that in the playoffs against the Pistons in 2005 when he passed to Donyell Marshall for a game winning three despite having a clear path for a layup. He's a genuinely honest and loving guy, friendly and easy to laugh with, who happens to be the greatest NBA player alive.

He'll never be caught on video ordering his GM to "ship his ass out" like Kobe was caught talking about Andrew Bynum.

But he'll never push, prod, goad, and fight his own teammates into position to win a championship.

Which brings me to Dwayne Wade.

If anyone watched the 2006 series where he destroyed the Dallas Mavericks and single handedly won a playoff series and a Championship, they know Dwayne Wade will rise (or sink) to any level to win. He will drive the lane over and over, come as close to travelling as possible, push, grab, hold, literally anything to win, and if the entire state of Texas forever hates him, then let them hate.

Now that LeBron is tucked safely under Dwayne Wade's protective (and muscular) arm, he can continue to play the beautiful game of basketball we mortals can only dream of. But when it comes time for the speech to rally his team back from a 2-0 deficit in the playoffs, he will be listening and Dwayne Wade will be furiously barking at his team like a Marine Captain in the middle of a war.

Dwayne Wade will be the leading scorer, be the best player and captain on the team with the best record, the team unlike any from my generation has ever seen. LeBron will have the best highlights, but Mr. Wade will get the awards. And if they are fortunate enough to win four playoff series in a row (and LeBron knows its never guaranteed) then Dwayne Wade will hoist the Bill Russell award, with a literal and metaphorical assist from LeBron.

Monday, July 12, 2010

We are all guilty witnesses

I like LeBron James a lot. I rooted for him against the Pistons all those years he battled them in the E.C. I've been a game to watch him play and he was everything he is said to be. The only thing he's ever done that I disliked was "the Decision". And what makes me dislike it is not the actual decision or the way he did it, but that I was excited for the decision and so incredibly let down by it.
That is why so many people are disappointed by "The Decision". It sucked. The show was a piece of crap and afterwards, every single person watching had an epiphany and realized how deluded we had all become over this process. I am the first to admit how excited I was about "the Decision" and I spent hours thinking over the possibilities, reading about the different choices, day dreaming and discussing, and was ultimately disappointed.

I realized as I watched it that 29 cities and literally millions of people had been kicked in the stomach and were turning off their TVs, thousands of TVs every second until the only people left watching were Miami Heat fans and gluttons for punishment.

There was no way everyone could have been happy or satisfied but somehow, everyone convinced themselves that they both knew what he would do and that it would turn out favorably for them.

It was an impossible mixture of hope, willful ignorance, and vicarious living. And when LeBron said the words "South Beach" we all realized how foolish we had been. No one is actually mad at LeBron. We are simply mad at ourselves.

Another writing topic

Doubt and hope are intertwined emotions. Hope is found in a dire situation because of the doubt. The situation may seem hopeless, the enemies plentiful, the options few, but there is hope because of the doubt inside each and every one of us. The doubt that the end will be as bad as we fear it may be; doubt gives us the irrational but necessary hope to push through bad days, dark times, and cloudy skies.

A healthy person has doubt and hope in equal measures.

Wow what a terrible piece of writing I just cranked out.


I've been reading this amazing book, "Writing to Change the World", by Mary Pipher, for about a week now. Its incredible. My fiancee was mad at me for underlining in pen last night, so I've switched to pencil, but that doesn't stop me from underlining!

Mary Pipher is a professional therapist and psychologist as well as a writer. Her writing topics have mostly been activist topics and she gives examples of her activism throughout her career. My desire would be to write more fiction topics than anything else. Whats amazing is reading her insight into human emotions and also some observations about linguistics.

I'm going to re-post all the underlined things and write a little about them.

"Whereas writers of propaganda encourage readers to accept certain answers, writers who want to transform their readers encourage the asking of questions". p 23.

That quote is great insight into the difference between the two.

"Once I articulated all these aspects about myself to myself, I tried to write as close to a unified conceptualization of myself as I could". p43.

What is my own tone and voice?

"Our lives are journeys toward a certain kind of wisdom, which is a love and appreciation for all living creatures". p58.

"We experience our lives as lived events, but also as material to be carefully examined later for richness and meaning. Just as meditation makes life more aware and joyous, so writing allows us to live more deeply and fully. Both involve the sanctification of time". P83.

I'm glad I've been writing for some time now and categorizing some things in my life. Must do them all!

"...that the way people enter into a conversation influences its outcome and that true change occurs only in the context of relationships". p 85.

this seems very true, and the first thing that popped into my mind was the Israeli/Palestinian negotiations.

"With our presence and attention, we suggest that honest exploration of issues is healing and that hiding from them is toxic...linguistic determinism that naming determines action and that which is unnamed is ignored". p86.

Some of my own experiences mirror this quote. Its better to figure out what you are feeling and why than keep plugging away at life without asking the questions.

"this nuanced use of words is evidence of a clear thinker" p90.

Perhaps my favorite quote so far.

"never underestimate the reader's intelligence or overestimate his information level" p90.

I should apply this to my classes.

"lets put this in the context of the larger patterns of your life" p91.

Hilarious quote, almost made me laugh out loud.

"Black and white thinking in others is unlikely to be changed if we employ the same thinking ourselves" 91.

George Bust.

"Churchill once defined fanatics as people who won't change their minds and can't change the subject" p91.

Who doesn't know a few fanatics??

"Unacknowledged emotions do not disappear; they fester. Ignoring dark emotions leads to addiction and violence." p95.

Addiction, the greatest of them all.

"Often, in the real world, people who behave badly or disagree with others are shamed or made to feel guilty. However, shame and guilt are poor motivating tools. They sap energy, and lead to rigid thinking. They may work short-term, but long-term they almost never sustain good behavior" p96.

Can I apply this to my teachings??

"appeal to clients' better selves" p96.

This to my teachings as well?

"Cynicism is a form of resistance, a walling off of the possibilities for transformation. At its core, it is a response to learned helplessness, a defensive strategy. Scratch every cynic and underneath you find a wounded idealist. For therapists and writers alike, the best treatment for cynicism is healing stories" p96.

First thought in my mind was I guy I knew once named Kevin C.

And finally...

"English does not include many words to describe mixed emotions--"poignant" and "bittersweet" are the only two that come to mind. German strings together adjectives to label complicated emotions; Japanese has many words to unsnarl such feelings" p105.

It would be delightful to read a book about the differences between the different languages of the world.

So where do I go from here? I want to start writing some sort of part time fiction stuff. Perhaps a modern day science fiction type novel, based in our society but with larger than life characters.
Thinking about these quotes and the larger context of the book, my first thought is about the moving starring Tom Cruise and his "pre-cog crime unit". The film, Minority Report, felt more like propaganda than a real movie trying to raise questions.

I'm sure Tom Cruise knew this, which raises more questions. Do most people prefer to be told what to think rather than do it themselves?

Contrast this to the success of the Matrix Trilogy, despite having one of the most boring and lame actors ever in Keanu Reeves. Perhaps it was his dead-panning of lines and general emotionlessness that allowed people to push past the human acting and superimpose themselves and their own questions on the movie.

Minority Report felt so contrived and the actors were very one-dimensional. Aside from the super cool graphics and cutting edge ideas, it was basically very limited and ended with a conclusion that felt forced. Most movies of that genre seem to feel forced with no real consideration and the villain always, always loses.

That is another major disappointment of mine with the Bond series. The bad guy always loses. For once I'd like to see a major movie where the bad guy wins, where people root for him despite his evilness, despite his flaws, and he emerges as a hero despite being bad at heart.

Perhaps a villain who at the most crucial part of the movie shows some sort of human side, makes a small concession, lives to fight another day, survives because of a scrap of goodness inside of him. Like Darth Vader versus the Emperor.

Friday, July 9, 2010

LeBron goes to Miami


Thats all I have to say. What a terrible way to punch Cleveland in the stomach, btw. If Bill Simmons is right about this entire drama being a charade, and that those three planned it ahead of time, even more wow.

The interview was very, very bizarre. I'll watch it again but LeBron had a very strange expression when talking about his Mom.

And to be honest, I don't think they'll win the Championship. They are like a donut, with a giant hole in the middle. That said, they will be a beast in the regular season, and could very well challenge 70 wins as they steamroll all the weak teams in the league. Biggest games of the year will be versus the Celtics, Magic, and Lakers, and possibly the Thunder as well. That team is going to be strong, strong, strong in the years to come. Durant is becoming a natural leader; leading by example is the strongest method of leadership and he seems like a very honest and hard working man. As his personal expectations grow, he will become more demanding of his teammates.

But I digress. KD would make a great article for Bleacher Report.

LeBron is going to Cleveland, and I'm honestly not sure of their dominance. But its super impressive for Pat Riley to have swung this set up when it was least expected a month ago.

I also feel terrible for Cleveland and the way this all went down. LeBron quite possibly knew all along that he was leaving. Numerous people have mentioned that his facial expressions seemed off or disjointed at times. Now I found out that after Game 6 he didn't return a single call or text to Cleveland. Thats a terrible way to end a relationship that his (at least publicly) been so loving and supportive.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Facial Expressions II

A cab driver in Cleveland, Ohio thinks that LeBron is leaving based on a facial expression he briefly shows when asked about his future. I watched a Pro Golfer, who was leading after his round was completed, make what could only be described as a uniquely Scottish facial expression. He drew back his mouth in a half grimace/half smile expression, but also scrunched his eyes. Its not a facial expression I've ever made or really even seen. I made the face a bunch of times but still couldn't figure it out.

It had to be some combination of anxiety, fear, but confidence and a perhaps a bit of superiority.

Very strange.

Facial Expressions

People make the darndest facial expressions. Often times they are so strange I don't even know what they mean! That is, until I make it myself. Then I know EXACTLY what it means. Facial expressions are funny because they convey what the person is ACTUALLY thinking, at that instance. Often when someone puts up a mask they conceal their facial expression because they know how it can betray their true emotions. But often, when asked to talk, or consider some new fact, the facial expression shines through for a split second, as a ray of sun passes through a patch of clouds before being covered up again.

I watched film of Brock Lesnar's post fight interview, after he had just completed a 12-month comeback from a life-threatening intestinal problem. He had the strangest look on his face for a split second. I watched the interview about five times and tried to make the expression myself. The most conclusive thing I could come up with was that he was worried and a little bit afraid.

That expression acknowledged his concern and the doubts he had about the fight. Will it lead to a more humble Brock? It certainly seemed it did in his post-fight interview.

Will he be humble for longer than a few minutes? We'll see.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blogging about Blogging

I've been doing much writing lately. Golf journaling, blogging, personal journaling, formal letters, etc., etc. It really makes me introspective and analytical, but simultaneously enjoy everything in my life and made me more self aware. That concept of mindfulness actually started in golfing, where I frequently realized that I would walk up to the ball, and next thing I know the ball is fifty yards away in the wrong direction. My mind would just blank out over the ball until I was done. With work I became better able to focus on my swing while I was setting up, practicing, and ultimately swinging.

This concept of focusing on what I'm doing while I'm doing it is intriguing and is certainly a great subject to explore.

I choked in golf

I was golfing yesterday at Sunken Gardens golf course. It is a nice par 29 course, featuring seven par-3s and two par-4s. Through eight holes I was having my best round ever. I had bogeyed the first hole, made three straight pars, a birdie, and then three more pars. That left me with, you guessed it, one hole to play before I could par the course. All I needed was a three on a hole that was playing 118 yards that day.

I'll be the first to say its never easy to land a green from any distance, and a 118 yards is a long ways. Nevertheless, I'd been playing quite well, made a few saves, had some great drives, and was confident. But as I did my preparations I thought I was focused, so I was completely surprised when the ball squirted out at a 45 degree angle, went across my fairway, through trees, and landed not on the green but in another fairway.

A terrible shot.

Not just a bad one, but the worst shot of the day on the most important hole of the day. I play 36 holes yesterday (thats four rounds) and it was easily my worst shot.

So what happened? I obviously choked. I didn't really approach the hole with the mindfulness I needed and didn't really check my backswing during the swing. I'm still surprised at what happened, and its bothersome.

I'm not afraid of becoming a choker or a panic-er. I simply need to get more technical knowledge. The fact is less than half my tee shots landed the greens I played. Some of my pars were tough up and downs. I simply have inconsistencies in my swing that result from not enough practice and not enough technical knowledge and not enough mindfulness. The best thing for me is to be able to monitor my swing and be aware of what I'm doing, as I'm doing it.

Golf is fun, and yesterday I almost made par on my first course. Once I do that, I can start trying to get under par for a round, par more courses, and par my first 18 hole course. It all comes down to focus, knowledge, and mindfulness.

Monday, June 21, 2010

NBA Finals 2010

The NBA Finals were an amazing series. I am a Laker fan so I'm obviously happy about the way it turned out; however I have a few thoughts on some other angles to the series that I want to write down before I forget them.

Doc Rivers was disparaged as a coach who couldn't get a system in place or get productivity out of the Celtics before the current "Big 3" was assembled in the summer of 2007. Now he is seen as more of a veteran's coach who gets peak performance out of a unit where egos could easily dominate and cause diversity.

I'm going to say he's largely the same person he was before and after the 2008 season. So what gives? Well, contrast that to Avery Johnson, who is a control oriented coach with seemingly perfect technical knowledge and attention to detail. He also oversaw two of the biggest choke jobs in NBA history, squandering a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals to a Miami Heat team that only won 52 games that year (compared to Dallas' sixty games). The following year, his 67 win team (67!!!) lost to the Golden State Warriors who squeaked into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, before promptly losing 4-1 to Utah, who lost 4-1 to the Spurs, who finally won the championship.

Meanwhile, Doc Rivers lead a team with a solid starting five to upset victories over the league leading Cavaliers (61 wins) and then the Magic (59 wins) and nearly beat the Lakers, narrowly losing a game 7 in which the lead by 13 points in the third quarter.

Whats the difference? How can one coach who is able to pound and mold a team into a well-oiled regular season machine able to choke in the playoffs while coach Doc Rivers stumbles through home losses to the Nets and Wizards only to pull a five headed rabbit out of the proverbial hat once the playoffs start?

I don't know. I doubt anyone does. But consider a quote from Doc Rivers who said, and I quote "I'm a typical guy. I can point out the problem but I don't have a solution". It takes a big man to say that. Avery Johnson would never say that. Ever.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Game 2 Thoughts and Game 3 preview

Game 2 of the NBA Finals featured Ray Allen setting the 3 point shot record in the NBA Finals, with seven consecutive and 8 total three-pointers made. Despite his record performance, the Celtics trailed by 3 with five minutes remaining at a score of 90-87. The Celtics squeaked out a victory with the help of Rajon Rondo's triple double and amazing offensive rebounds.

Lamar Odom played 15 minutes due to over aggressive play; he's probably so amped up after sitting on the bench that he plays with too much energy at the start and ends up collecting fouls. His desire to contribute and play is actually hurting his performance.

Ron Artest had a 1-10 shooting night but is still doing amazing work on Paul Pierce defensively. They are simply letting Ron Artest guard his straight up on the perimeter knowing that Bynum and Gasol are simply camping in the paint waiting for a drive.

Which reminds me: Kendrick Perkins and Bynum are basically having a war in the paint and its working out in the favor of the Lakers as the Lakers perimeter defenders can be up in everyone's jersey, knowing that dribble penetration will be met by a rejuvenated Bynum and the ever-active Gasol.

Kevin Garnett looks so fragile I think I could guard him one on one. He knows that Gasol is taller, stronger, heavier, quicker, and younger. Advantage: Lakers.

If Ray Allen didn't have the GREATEST NIGHT IN FINALS HISTORY the game wouldn't have even been close. If he had shot his season average 40 percent and made four instead of eight, those missing points would have meant they were down 15 with five minutes to go instead of 3. An insurmountable lead.

Nate Robinson comes in cold off the bench and hits a fall away 3 pointer? I'm comfortable letting a castoff from one of the leagues worst teams shooting as many fall away 3-pointers as he wants.
Ray Allen was making catch and shoot 3s all night. Thats an amazing feat and he's legitimately the best shooter in the NBA right now. But thats all he's making. He isn't creating off the dribble or beating them one on one like Kobe can. So how about Shannon Brown quits leaving him to help in the lane and Derek Fisher fights through some screens? I mean get serious here. The Lakers will win Game 3 and they will win the series in 6.

Kevin Garnett dominated Rashard Lewis in the Orlando series? Rashard Lewis, a 6'10" power forward who needed to take HGH to average 5 rebounds a game? Really? Now that he's been suspended and off the juice for a year Kevin Garnett is boasting of his performance over him? Gasol is taller, heavier, stronger, and mentally tougher and most importantly, has faced the KG blitz before. He failed in 2008. He won't again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Lakers and Celtics are in the Finals

To prepare for the Finals, which start tomorrow, I'm going to do a player by player comparison to determine which team has the advantage in the series.

Home Court: advantage goes to the Lakers. However, both are veteran teams, and both played well on the road. So I'd have to say that I doubt home court advantage will be a big factor in this series.

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo vs. Derek Fisher. Rajon has had some monster games this season and also led his teams in WP. Derek Fisher is 35 and not much of a dribble penetration kind of guy. The Celtics have a huge advantage in Rondo v Fisher.

Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant vs. Ray Allen. Obviously, Kobe is Kobe, skilled at everything, and performing really well now that his knee is in better shape. The Celtics have Ray Allen, who is adept at moving without the ball, rolling around multiple screens, and hitting open shots. The problem for the Lakers is that it forces Kobe to spend energy on defense chasing Ray Allen. The problem for the C's is that Ray Allen will probably have to guard Kobe, which is very tough to do.
Small Forward: Paul Pierce versus Ron Artest. PP is a very good player, especially on offense. Ron Artest is a good player, especially on defense. Its a situation of one players strengths going against anothers strengths, which is rare. Most players make it to the NBA based on offense. Ron Artest was brought to the Lakers for defense. Also, Ron Artest has been hitting corners threes very well lately and playing under control. So while the Cs have the advantage when it comes to their best player, its not as much of one as I'd suspect. Ron Artest is happy to play like a pitbull all game against Ron Artest and nothing else.

Power Forward: Keven Garnett versus Pau Gasol. Advantage Lakers. With all due respect to KG and what he's done over the years, Pau is better. Hes much better on offense. However, same situation as the last position. Pau is great on offense, KG is great on defense. Tireless, relentess defense. Also, KG has always been a good outside shooter and has an array of post moves. Over the course of a season, Pau is better. A seven game series? Not as sure. Advantage Lakers, but not a big one.

Center: Two guys who are there for their defense, defending each other. Great. I expect 2.45 ppg for each player! Ha, we'll see. Between Kendrick Perkins technical foul trouble and Bynums knee problems, I expect both players to miss significant playing time this series. Advantage: No one.

6th Man: Lamar Odom vs. Glen Davis/Rasheed Wallace. Neither Cs sub has the combination of mobility and strength to match Lamar. He is also rebounding very well (see his 19 rebound performance against the Suns). Davis and Wallace both have their strengths, also Wallace has had back problems and is as likely to throw up a clunker of a game as he is a good game. Wallace does seem dialed in and focused, however. Advantage Lakers.

Bench: Both benches are erratic. The Lakers PGs may be able to help with Rajon Rondo ( Shannon Brown and Farmar) but beyond that, its a toss up as to which team's bench will have a good game and which one won't. Whoever blinks first losses the championship.

Coaches: Both veterans, both experienced. Doc Rivers had a reputation for being overmatched and incompetent before the Big 3 arrived, and he is now hailed as an amazing coach. Probably somewhere in between. Jackson's main coaching strategy has been to have Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, Shaq, Kobe, and now Gasol, as his players. I thought Stan Van Gundy did a better coaching job last year in the Finals.

Prediction? I don't know.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Shaq's injury may have helped the Cavs

I think that Shaq's thumb injury and subsequent surgery, which required him to miss the last two months of the season, was good for him and the Cavs. First off, it allowed Z to get a lot of minutes after his one month lay-off and get back into the Cavs system (although I'm sure he had it down pat after pairing with LeBron and Coach Brown for the last six seasons.

Secondly, it simply gave Shaq time to rest his body and get ready for the post season. Since it was just a thumb injury, he could still run and condition himself for games and he apparently spent this time losing twenty pounds. Awesome for him and the Cavs. This reminds me of when he missed the first twenty games of the season the year the Heat won the Championship. Then it was a badly sprained ankle but the fact remains it is a good thing for him to miss time as he was fresher for the playoffs.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bleacher Report Part 2....

I'm going to make my second attempt at writing on Bleacher Report. The articles will focus on my NBA Effort Model, statistical examples of it, and creating dialogue about it. Using the community I can hopefully vet my ideas. I might also mention the Martingale Idea, and try to test losing streaks for significance.

Research Topic: Blowout wins

It would be interesting to look at the worst defeat each team suffered each season, and then compare the score and spread of the next time they played that same opponent which handed them that bad loss.

That would bump up a teams effort for the Effort Model.

Performance = Skill*Effort

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Payback in the NBA

Two recent upsets occurred in the NBA.

The first was the Knicks beating of the Mavs by a score of 128-94. This most unlikely of scores was apparently due to the Knicks wanting "payback" for the 50 point home loss they endured at the hands of the Mavericks on January 24th.

Some quotes from the game: "We felt they'd take us lightly," said Douglas, making his first start since Nov. 18. "A lot of teams look at the schedule and say, 'Oh, that's the Knicks. That's a win.' But we've got to come out and compete every night.

"Revenge is sweet sometimes. That's a really good team over there but we caught them at the right time. They were ripe for the picking," said New York reserve Al Harrington, who had 20 points. "When you're rolling along and the Knicks are coming in, you figure you can score 150 points on 'em in your sleep. But that Knick team didn't show up today. We caught 'em by surprise."

"They remembered [the blowout in New York]," said Dallas' Shawn Marion, who scored 14 points. "They even said something to me about it before the game. They said they were going to give us a spanking."

This appeared to be an easy win for the Mavericks, but the Knicks came out focused and perhaps fearful of what would happen if they didn't.

The second game also involves the Mavericks, this time against Boston.

For this game, Rasheed Wallace vowed payback for the twenty point home loss they suffered. And they were focused and barely won.

These two games support my "energy and skill" theory, that any team on any night plays at a certain level defined by their energy and innate skill. Basically, a teams innate skill at 100% focus and energy, multiplied by whatever percentage of energy a team is playing at for the night. Lets say an average game is played at 75% energy, playoffs close to 95%, etc.